Tuesday, June 19, 2012

One month home!

Wow, has it really been a month?  How time has flown and stood still at the same time!  Everything I'm writing seems so cliche, but it really does feel like John has been with us much longer.  He's just doing beautifully and fits seamlessly into our family.  This has been the easiest transition yet for a new addition!  Of all the kids, Henry and Vivian have given him the most attention.  Vivian was constantly in his face at first, hanging on every little thing he said or did.  He would say something in Chinese and she would somehow turn it into an English word!

Speaking of language, John is picking up English very quickly.  He understands most of what we say and has many English words that he uses.  I think he's finally figured out that "No" and "John" are 2 separate words.  ;)

We think that John had the flu his plane ride home and first week home.  He ran a fever for 5-6 days and the cough persisted a few days after that.  Noone else became ill in the family!  Amazing!  Remember when we ALL had the flu back in February...well I call that Divine Wisdom!!  Had no idea why we were suffering then...better THEN than NOW!  Also, his being sick helped with his sleeping schedule.  It didn't take long for him to be on central time.  I think he was up one night wide awake for a few hours in the middle of the night.  Now, the coughing kept us awake a lot of nights, but he settled into sleeping at night and taking a nap in the afternoon quite easily.

He is also doing well with attachment.  My mom has had to stay with the kids for me to get someone to an appointment or two, and he's been a little anxious about that.  I've tried to keep that to a minimum but some things just could not have been done otherwise.  He won't go to anyone else but us, and he's gradually warming up to grandparents and extended family.  This is a good thing!  We haven't had to explain to anyone why they can't hold him because he hasn't let anyone.  :)

We have his appointment with the Spina Bifida Clinic next week.  I'm anxious to see what the first treatment is for his clubbed foot.  I'm hoping they will be able to do the Ponseti method.  We'll also see a urologist and a neurosurgeon.  I'm not sure what tests will be done on our first visit.  One great thing is that John peed in the potty tonight!  He has shown some awareness of his bodily functions so we're hopeful that he will be fully continent.  I know that even if he is continent, sometimes cathing is necessary because of increased bladder pressures, incomplete emptying, etc., but it's great that he does have some sensation.  I don't expect we'll have all of our questions answered next week, but it will be a start.
Let's see if I can tell the month's story through pictures...it's been fairly busy!

First morning home...Vivian and Ellen imitating John's thumb-sucking.  :)  Note the pillows on the sofa...I slept about 3 hours and then couldn't sleep a wink!  Jet lag stinks...  A little Sunday afternoon nap got me back on schedule.  Go figure.

Finishing up the last week of school.  I drug poor sick John to the kids' awards day at school.  Couldn't miss it!  Here is Henry receiving his gold medal for the Recommended Reading List.  He also received a History Hounds award.   I did have to miss the 2nd grade field trip to Sci-Quest the next day.  :(

Rebecca receiving a History Hounds award!

When the fever subsided, it was time for a haircut!

How wonderful to see pure joy in his face again!  He was so pitiful when he was sick.  He loves this riding toy because it will GO!  He's not so great at steering.

Family pic at Nannie and PawPaw's house!

Annual Memorial Day Camp-out.  (Well, John and I didn't actually stay and sleep in tents and all that, but I'm told I have to participate next year.)  A creek full of kids!

Trip to the park.  What a great big brother there to push him in the swing!

June 4th was Vivian's and Ellen's dance recital.  Ellen's class did a routine to the "Bunny Hop," and Vivian's class did a tap number to "Little Bitty Pretty One" and a jazz/ballet number to the Chipmunks' "Vacation."  They both did fabulous!

Our backyard paradise.  :)

Just hanging out.  The kids were all playing Charades and "Doggy, Doggy, Where's Your Bone?"in the yard.  John was catching on to the latter very well. 

Vivian lost her first tooth.  She could not have been prouder!

O.K., so John wanted to put on Vivian's tutu and Ellen's bunny ears and dance with the girls...  Henry was quite amused, although did not approve.  :)

Getting his turn on the lawnmower with Daddy.  Oh, how he loves his Daddy!  He cries for him when he leaves for work in the mornings and is SO excited to see him when he gets home.

Oh, my goodness, this girl is growing up on me! 

Sisters and BFF's

Nothing like cold watermelon on a hot day!  And he put away more than anyone!

My child who hates to be photographed!  :)

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The Homecoming

So, finally I've got around to posting a few pics of the airport.  I have no idea why other people seem to be such great photographers.  I LOVE pictures, but I can't for the life of me figure out how they have the time.  I'm O.K. with the "every day" pictures, but when there's a major event it's always the last thing on my mind to take pictures.

Back to the flight...we could hardly contain ourselves on the flight from Chicago to Huntsville.  We were almost HOME.  There were 3 seats across on the small plane, one on one side of the aisle, and two on the other side.  Billy and John were seated across from me.  Since Billy was the one having to deal with our sick little boy, I was in charge of "the backpack."  I was constantly handing wipes across the aisle, etc.

As we approached Huntsville and we felt the plane descending, my stomach was just doing flip-flops.  The time away from the other children had been way too long, and I couldn't wait to see their little faces and just touch and hold them all.  The emotion that was welling up inside me was hardly containable, and as we landed it was just an amazing feeling to be at the end of this long journey.  Now, we could begin the best part, living as a family of 8.

After we gathered the carry-on suitcase and the stroller from the valet, we made our way down the elevator to be greeted by all the children, holding balloons and handmade signs, along with my mom, step-dad, dad, step-mom, brother, sister-in-law, neice, nephew, and many of our church family.  They were holding a huge banner signed by all of our church family!  A very warm welcome!

The first thing I did was give each of the kids a hug.  I don't remember much after that.  :)

 Billy checking on our sick little guy.  He didn't want to be held, but was pretty content in the stroller.

Back with Mommy.  She's such a Mommy's girl.  I'm so proud of how she handled my being away.  She was very brave.  :) 
I guess this was around midnight, just before everyone went to bed.  The kids were so excited!  It was wonderful to be together again, all under one roof.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Sick Baby on a Plane

The trip home was a nightmare.  The night before we left John started coughing.  We didn't sleep much that night because of that, and we had to be up before 5 am, packed and ready to leave the hotel by 6 am.  We got checked in and to our gate by 7 am, but our flight wasn't leaving until 9.  John did pretty well during this wait.  He loved looking out the window at all the airplanes.  This, however, coincided with clothing change #1 because he had a major diaper blowout.  By the time we boarded and got settled in for the flight, he was asleep.  I'm thinking, wow, this might be an easy day.  ;)  We got to Shanghai and had to collect our luggage to recheck it for an international flight.  O.K.  Also, they gate-checked John's stroller, but it ended up going to baggage claim too.  Thanks.  This kid is heavy and that's exactly why we brought our stroller to the gate, so we wouldn't have it when we got off the plane.  ;)  So, after waiting in a long line at the American Airlines counter and having to have our bags rummaged through because (gasp!) we had over 100 ml of fluid in our CHECKED luggage, we got through security with everyone, including John, patted down extensively.  We're hungry now so we're scoping out where the food court is...we're looking for anything NOT Chinese at this point!  ha ha  Lo, and behold, there was a pizza place AND a Burger King!  We opted for pizza.  Now came diaper blowout #2 (no pun intended) and a shorts change.  No problem, we've got this.  We're parenting pros.  (The one bright star in the Shanghai layover was free Wi-fi and it didn't require being able to read Chinese to log on!  Score!)  John didn't eat much for lunch--a BIG red flag because this kid eats like a man.  An hour later--does he feel warm to you?  Nah, I think he's O.K.  30 minutes before boarding--this kid's got a high fever.  So, we go through the airport checking the gift shops for any children's tylenol.  Of course not.  Well, we have adult ibuprofen, so we can hide half in a gummie and he'll be fine...  (We had given away our children's tylenol to another family in our travel group with a sick child.)
After I argued my case for the stroller (and won), thank you very much, we boarded this monstrosity.  My memory of the actual flight is already a blur.  No sleep for Billy or me.  Fitful sleep at best for John, whenever he wasn't barking like a seal with his cough, or vomiting, or having diarrhea.  He was pitiful.  He wouldn't eat at all, but we could get apple juice/water down him O.K.  Not the best for diarrhea, mind you, but we're pretty limited here.  We're wrestling with what is triggering the vomiting (the fever vs. the sinus drainage when he's lying flat vs. a combination of both).  So, we're trying not to let his fever get too high...he's not eating the gummies so we're forcing the half ibuprofen tablet down...we're trying to keep him upright by sleeping on us...nothing really works.  I got by without too much bodily fluids on me, but Billy had it on his shirt and pants.  This goes on for thirteen hours.  For flight attendants we had the seat belt Nazi (who was clearly more concerned that John would somehow fall out of Billy's arms than the fact he was very sick) and apparently a self-appointed consultant for the CDC.  Really.  Yes, he had the medical exam required for his visa.  No, he doesn't have some deadly exotic illness.  No help or sympathy here.  We used all 3 of our little airplane blankets and the flimsy baby pillowcases for vomit absorption.  By the end of the flight, John had not a stitch of clothes on him except for his diaper.  I'm crying by the time we're on the ground in Chicago.
Getting through customs was suprisingly painless.  I'm getting pretty tired of waiting at baggage carousels by this point, but we get our luggage, turn in the brown envelope from the U.S. Consulate (yea, John is a U.S. Citizen!), and make it through without a customs officer having to pilfer through our dirty underwear.  Before we recheck the luggage, we get out some fresh clothes for Billy and restock the carry-on for John.
John is feeling a little better now so we're hopeful.  He eats some McDonald's fries and although he still has the horrendous cough, seems to have a little more life in him.  After we eat a bite and freshen up, it's about time to board the plane to Huntsville!  In that short flight he manages to vomit up all those fries and have another diaper blowout...on Billy.  Fever once again has spiked.
Never in my life was I so happy to be almost home.  :)
Homecoming to be continued...

Friday, May 18, 2012

Guangzhou Day 7--Last Day!

We stayed around the hotel all day and enjoyed the lazy, rainy day. John had a screaming fit mid-morning and that ended in one exhausted little boy who only gave in by falling asleep. He slept a couple of hours, so he didn't get an afternoon nap. We were able to pick up his passport with his U.S. visa this afternoon, so we're all set! We leave the hotel at 6 am, and I think around 28.5 hours later, we land in Huntsville! I cannot wait to see my babies!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Guangzhou Day 6--Consulate Appointment

I didn't get this typed up last night, mostly because there isn't much really to tell. :) Our boredom is getting the best of us. Sure, we could take a taxi and go on some sort of sightseeing trip but we're just over it. We just want to come home and resume life, with a new little person in it. We miss our children so much! However, we do not regret our decision for them to stay at home. It would have been a rough trip for them. Plus, we've got to spend time getting to know John. He has really needed undivided attention from us to get him through this big life change! That's about to come to a screeching halt! ha ha

We've so far stayed healthy on the trip. We've about given away all of our medication to the other families with us. It seems like there's at least one family member in each of them that has been under weather. So, we're coming home without the amoxicillin, baby Tylenol, Cipro, and Permethrin. Yeah, we think one kid had scabies. :( About the only thing we've endured is I strained my lower back some, probably by carrying big John!

The big accomplishment for our Thursday was our long awaited U.S. Consulate appointment! We don't have any pictures from this as they don't allow cameras or any electronic devices inside. It really was a lot of waiting once we got there, and then when it was finally our turn at the window, it was quick and painless. We did take an oath together as a group that all of our documents and statements were true, yada yada yada. Our guide will go later today and pick up John's visa. Then we are clear to come home!

We had a nice dinner last night at an Italian restaurant. It wasn't as good as back home, but it was definitely comfort food. We're all for that. We're pretty tired of looking at food, trying to figure out what it is. ha ha

 Ready for the Consulate Appointment
Bath Time!!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Guangzhou Day 5

This is beginning to feel like Groundhog Day. We are so ready to come home! We miss the kids and are starting to miss our responsibilities just a little. :)

John started the day off by throwing a big fit. Billy took away a toothbrush holder that he was playing with and he would not get over it. He starts out with a fake cry and burying his head on the floor, and then it escalates into real tears and then screams. Nothing brings him down once he's all revved up. It was time to go down for breakfast, so I carried him through the hallway, down the elevator, across the lobby, and into the restaurant while he was screaming. It seemed like everyone was staring at us. I guess it seemed that way because they were! The nice hostess greeted us with "Outside?" We were flabbergasted that she could read our minds! lol So, we got to sit by the waterfall and the koi pond while eating breakfast. This is a rough life! Oh, and he did calm down once we were outside and saw the fish. After we finished eating I shredded his leftover waffle to feed them, and he loved that. After that was all gone, he walked over and got the rest of his bacon before I knew what he had and fed that to the fish too.

We went as a group on the bus to visit Shamian Island. This is the area where we stayed when we adopted Rebecca. It is a beautiful place, full of trees and European colonial architecture (because it used to be owned by the British). There are several small shops, but not as many as there once were when more adoptive families would stay here. The travel medical clinic used to be here, but since that has moved, not as many families stay here. Also the White Swan Hotel is now closed, awaiting renovation.

We visited Susan's Place, which is run by a gentleman from Rebecca's city, Wuchuan. He was so helpful to us when we adopted Rebecca. Wuchuan has a special dialect of Cantonese, and he could speak to Rebecca where she could understand. He remembered us and wants us to email him a new picture of Rebecca when we get home. We bought several gifts here for the kids and had tea with him.

We had lunch at an old favorite, Cow and Bridge, a Thai restaurant. I didn't think it was as good as I remembered. We decided against going out for dinner and opted for snack food out of ziploc bags. Yum. Billy just had to bring up that he wanted some popcorn. Oh, that sounds good!

Tomorrow morning we have our Consulate appointment! On Friday John's visa will be ready and then we fly for home Saturday morning!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Guangzhou day 4

We stayed around the hotel today, doing a lot of nothing. We walked through the gardens and by the waterfalls and koi ponds, walked around the pool, played on the playground, and played in the playroom. We should have went swimming, but since John was up a lot later last night and didn't sleep as late as usual, we thought he'd take an early and long nap. Umm, no.

For dinner we did meet several people at a nearby Thai restaurant. The food was pretty good, but the entertainment was hilarious. The staff sang and danced to American pop music and even serenaded a few people. They really got into it! The funniest song was their rendition of "Like a Virgin" by Madonna. One of the guys would really swing his hips to that one. John seemed to enjoy the very loud music. One of the ladies even picked him up and danced with him a little.

John is preferring Billy to me now. He's always reaching for his Baba. I'm not completely rejected; I'll do if Billy is not around. :) It's O.K. because he's going to be with just me soon enough when Billy goes back to work.
 View from out hotel room.
 Dinner entertainment.

 Sharing Cheerios with the fish.
 Lots of koi!
Having fun sliding with his Baba.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Guangzhou Day 3

Today's business was getting John's TB test read.  We loaded the bus and went back to the medical clinic for a quick skin check.  We all then went to the zoo.  It was HOT today.  Yesterday it rained some, so it was muggy, but nothing compared to today.  I had forgotten how miserable the weather is here.  It was like Mobile in July!  The zoo was nice, but the heat & humidity kept us from really enjoying it.  John loved seeing all the animals.  We saw pandas along with all the other animals you would expect to see at the zoo. They had a children's play area which we did NOT go in.  There were some little wading pools in that area where children were playing NAKED.  I think I counted 5 completely nude little boys splashing around there.

We don't see as many bare kid bottoms in split pants here as we did in the other cities.  This city seems more westernized in many ways, maybe because it's so close to Hong Kong.  There are also many international travelers and business people here.  But we did see a gentleman relieve himself in front of our 5-star hotel tonight.

John and I took a nap when we got back to the hotel after the zoo.  I'm getting used to the afternoon nap!  One kid, no housework=piece of cake!  LOL  After that afternoon of leisure, we went to a Mexican restaurant for dinner.  It was so good, but expensive!  It was more expensive than a Mexican meal back at home.  Billy had to go back to the hotel for more money while we were waiting on the food!  hahaha  I think it came to $40 for the three of us.  A splurge for sure.  It was worth it though.  It was the best comfort food we've had so far. :)

After dinner, we walked to the local Trust Mart, which is the Wal-Mart equivalent.  We were almost out of diapers and we opted for the Chinese brand as the were half the price of Pampers or Huggies.  We'll see how they compare.  :)

That's about it, other than I've washed a couple of "loads" of laundry in the bathtub tonight.  I washed some in Zhengzhou too, but I had a clothesline in the bathroom there.  This place is too fancy for an in-room clothesline, I guess.  The housekeeping staff will enjoy my creative ways of hanging tomorrow.  We also sent out some laundry to be done in Zhengzhou.  I think that total was around $30, so I'm just trying to get by until we get back home. :)

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Guangzhou Day 2--Happy Mother's Day!

Today our group went to a shopping mall and wholesale jewelry mall. It was hot and unairconditioned. We got some Chinese dresses and jade necklaces for the girls and a couple of Chinese outfits for John. We're still trying to scope out what to bring back for the boys. I don't think Chinese swords will make it through U.S. Customs. ;) We ate at Pizza Hut AGAIN at the mall. I think that makes a total of 5 times on this trip. We've sworn ourselves off of Pizza Hut.

John decided he didn't want to take a nap when we got back to the hotel, so he threw himself a little tantrum. He is stubborn! We finally just laid him down in the floor and let him scream, while we pretended to read or watch T.V. When he calmed down a little, I picked him up and held him. He started it up again so I laid him in the crib and sat on the bed. When he calmed down some I picked him up and rocked him to sleep. Attachment parenting is really hard. I mean, we all do some sort of attachment parenting with our biological kids, but with adopted children who have been institutionalized, it's a whole different set of rules. John had been cared for but he had not been parented. Big difference.

After nap we got him dressed in his red Chinese outfit and went downstairs for a group picture. We then walked with our group to a nearby Malaysian restaurant for dinner. It was pretty good. My drink was coconut milk out of a real coconut, so that was fun.

Tomorrow we go back to the medical clinic for John's TB test to be read, and then we go to the zoo.

 Dad & the Little Emperor
 The coconut
 My Mother's Day card.  Billy had all the kids to color and sign it before we left, and then he had John to color a section.  So sweet!
 Eating with the Rosboroughs at dinner
 The Lifeline group
Ready for my picture!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Guangzhou Day 1

Yesterday we hung out around the hotel in Zhengzhou waiting for our guide to pick up John's passport. We packed everything up so we could be ready for our 5:10 pm flight. That's about it, besides taking John to the playroom a couple of times. He had to get in a little catnap before we left the hotel around 2 pm. The plane was late getting to the gate, so we didn't board until almost 5. Then, we sat on the tarmac for an hour and a half. There was a bad thunderstorm that closed the Guangzhou airport for a couple of hours, so they were waiting for that to clear. The flight to Guangzhou was about 2 hours, so it was 10:30 pm before we even arrived at the hotel.

We had seats in the very last row, across from the bathroom (there are men that don't close the door while they use it) and also across from a guy traveling in handcuffs. Nice. John did great during the flight. He slept for most of it!

The Garden Hotel in Guangzhou is the nicest hotel we've ever stayed in, but it's cheaper in price than the one we stayed at in Zhengzhou. We've been playing with all the little gadgets, like the remote control shower curtain and the rainfall shower head. We even had fresh roses in our room. I told Billy he should have just told me he had them sent for Mother's Day. The breakfast buffet (included in our room rate) is really good too.

On our itinerary for the day was to have John's medical exam done. The U.S. requires all the children to go through this to screen for any major infectious diseases. It's really just a formality--they do a height/weight check, ENT exam, a quick history and physical, and then a TB skin test. The clinic is crowded with families with newly adopted children, so it's quite a lively (loud) place. We had to wait for a bit while our guide registered everyone in our group, so we were sitting in a waiting area. Many parents were pulling out snacks for their kids, and well, John wants any food that anyone else has. So, after he went through the Cheerios, Billy got out a banana to feed to him while I went to fill out some paperwork. The next thing I know is I hear John screaming and crying at the top of his lungs. Billy decides to bring him to where I am, and he keeps screaming and screaming. No amount of candy is diffusing this one. Billy tells me the reason for this tantrum: After John had eaten down some of the banana, Billy peels the rest of it and hands the banana to him. Tantrum begins and he pushes the banana away. Billy eats the rest of the banana. Tantrum escalates. We are being stared at. A nice nurse comes over a hands John a piece of candy. He throws it across the room. Our guide finally comes over and speaks a few words to him and sternly looks at him in the face while shaking her finger at him. He starts the snub cry. He's calm enough now for a lollipop. Think he might have been spoiled? :)

John did awesome for the rest of the exam. The doctor did note a faint heart murmur, so we'll have to get that checked out once we're back home. When it came time for the TB test, he cried just a little. He then wanted lots of sympathy by showing us his boo-boo over and over.

After we came back to the hotel, we walked to Burger King for lunch. Billy ordered a #1 (Whopper meal) and I wanted the #16 (regular cheeseburger meal). The cashier thought Billy wanted 16 #1's, and the total rang up to over 500 yuan. Funny stuff, this language barrier.

After lunch Billy and John took a nap, while I went to a visa paperwork meeting. I'm hoping that the paperwork is about over!

 Silly boy!
 His silly face--He learns this gets a laugh, so every time he gets "in trouble," he uses this.
 He loves his daddy now!
 sweaty boy after the tantrum
 having his ears checked
hotel lobby in Guangzhou